Prof Caroline Humfress

Professor Caroline Humfress

BA, MA, PhD Cantab., FRHS, FSLS - Professor


Contact Details

E-mail -
Telephone - +44 (0)1334 462893
Fax - +44 (0)1334 463334

Research Profile on Research@StAndrews


Teaching and Research Interests

Professor Caroline Humfress joined the School of History in September 2015, having taught previously at the University of London (Birkbeck), the University of California at Berkeley and Oxford University. Her main research interests focus upon law and legal practice in comparative historical contexts, from Late Antiquity to the present day. She has published widely on the period c.200-c.600AD and is currently finishing a monograph for Oxford University Press: Multi-legalism in Late Antiquity.  She is presently co-editing the Cambridge Comparative History of Ancient Law: the first project of its kind in the field of Comparative Ancient Legal History, working with an international team of scholars specialising in the fields of Ancient Greek, Roman, Indo-European, Near-Eastern and Chinese Law. Some of her current research also explores approaches from the disciplines of law and legal studies, anthropology and sociology and she is delighted to be joining the new University of St Andrew’s Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research.

Professor Humfress has also worked on the history of empires, recently co-editing a volume on Law and Empire: Ideas, Practices, Actors; in addition to researching early Christian history and ecclesiastical law. She is especially interested in studying law, religion and the state ‘in action’: how did individuals and groups attempt to ‘work’ the systems and structures within which they lived and what can this tell us about contemporary societies today, in global contexts?

She has taught a wide range of courses from archaic Greece to contemporary intellectual and political thought. In particular she has presented a number of Undergraduate and Postgraduate modules on the religious, cultural and political history of Late Antiquity and the early Middle ages, as well as on the history of ideas (Classical, Medieval and Modern).

Main Publications

  • Telling Stories about (Roman) Law: Rules and Concepts in Legal Discourse" in Dresch, P. and Scheele, J., Legalism: Rules and Categories (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).
  • “Patristic Sources” in Johnston, D., ed., The Cambridge Companion to Roman Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 97-118.
  • Being Christian in Late Antiquity co-edited with Harrison, C. and Sandwell, B. (Oxford: Oxford Univerity Press, 2014).
  • “Law and Legal Culture in the Age of Attila” in Maas, M., ed., The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 140-55.
  • “Institutionalization between Theory and Practice: Comparative Approaches to Medieval Islamic and Late Roman Law” in Hudson, J. and Rodriguez, A., eds., Diverging Paths?  The Shapes of Power and Institutions in Medieval Christendom and Islam (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 16-29.
  • “Thinking through Legal Pluralism: ‘Forum shopping’ in the Later Roman Empire” in Duindam, J., Harries, J., Humfress, C. and Hurvitz, N., eds., Law and Empire (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 225-250
  • “Laws’ Empire: Roman Universalism and Legal Practice” in du Plessis, P.J., ed., New Frontiers: Law and Society in the Roman World (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 2013), 73-101
  • “Law and Custom under Rome” in Rio, A., ed., Custom in the Middle Ages (London: Hellenic Studies Institute, 2012), 23-47
  • “Bishops and Lawcourts in Late Antiquity: How Not to Make Sense of the Legal Evidence”, Journal of Early Christian Studies 19.3 (Fall 2011), 375-400
  • Orthodoxy and the Courts in Late Antiquity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)

Administrative Duties

Deputy Director, University of St Andrews Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research

Legal and Constitutional Studies MLitt Co-Ordinator (to be offered from September 2016)

Teaching Lead, Marie Curie ITN Power and Institutions in Medieval Islam and Christendom.

Academic Misconduct Officer, School of History

Teaching Duties

Lectures and teaches on the sub honours course ME1003 and offers the following Honours course :


Research Students

Professor Humfress is especially happy to receive applications to supervise postgraduate students within the following broad fields of study: Late Antique History c. 300 -600; Roman, Post-classical and Early Medieval legal, political and religious thought; and comparative legal history.

Current Research Student

Ingrid Ivarsen "Legal language and legal knowledge in Anglo-Saxon England"

She has successfully supervised PhD/MPhil theses to completion in the following areas:

    • Prudentius and the poetry of Hispania
    • Proclus and Late Antique political philosophy
    • Late Roman Papacy
    • The Making of Roman Religion
    • Legal Culture and Imperial Rule

She has also been an active member on joint committees for PhD students at UC Berkeley; Princeton University and Harvard University




Main Publications